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Tech Leaders of Tomorrow: Ebuka Egbunam

This is the first in our Tech Leaders Of Tomorrow series – an ongoing celebration of students who exemplify CodePath’s vision for tech excellence.

Individuals who epitomize tech excellence show a profound comprehension of their work, and the desire to dig deeper into the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ behind tech. The dedication and care with which these students approach their craft is what sets them apart. They also understand the importance of giving back, and understand that accessibility is a community responsibility. 

To assist students in achieving their full potential, CodePath provides access to top tier resources, like technical training, career guidance, a supportive community, and mentors for various paths in tech. This gives students the ability to become the best at what they strive to accomplish, to build team synergy, and to represent tech excellence.

For our first Tech Leaders Of The Future feature, we spoke with CS student and CodePath Regional Program Technical Manager, Ebuka Egbunam, a flourishing young leader in computer science with a vision for change. 

“I grew in becoming a leader at CodePath,” he says. “I want to be a person that creates huge impacts and changes a lot of lives.” Ebuka is on the path to create those dynamic shifts, and he is doing it through tech.

Ebuka was born in Lagos, Nigeria, immigrated to the U.S. without his parents, and is currently living in Chicago. He is an undergraduate student majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics at City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright, and thanks to his 4.0 GPA was recently accepted as a transfer to continue his studies at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – one of the best Computer Science departments in the country.

Ebuka joined CodePath as a Tech Fellow, “I made it my goal to help every single student every day,” he says. 

As a freshman enrolled at Arizona State University, Ebuka was unusually young for our Tech Fellow group, but he had already taught himself iOS via Paul Hegarty’s online course. Unfortunately, right before he was set to begin, his family experienced financial difficulties, and he couldn’t afford to continue his plans at ASU, and he enrolled in community college instead. Despite this, he was determined to continue as a Tech Fellow.

We invited him to be our first remote Tech Fellow for Cal State Monterey Bay, where he excelled. Not only did he serve those students well, he was CodePath’s most prolific TA on Slack, answering hundreds of student questions per week, as tracked by our support bot. Many of the issues involved jumping onto Zoom to help students via screen share, and he was the most commonly mentioned TA in the student surveys as friendly and helpful! 

Through his experience with CodePath, Ebuka says he developed much more than a competitive engineering skillset. 

“I learned so much. Not just about iOS development, but my communication skills ramped up so much because I had so many zoom calls.” He continues, “That really put me in a position to be a better leader, and a better communicator.” 

Ebuka was such an exemplary student leader, that CodePath invited him to be a Regional Technical Program Manager (RTPM) which is a leader of student leaders. A CodePath RTPM manages Tech Fellows at 15 universities, and meets with each Tech Fellow individually on a weekly basis to support them in running their courses. Ebuka demonstrated great empathy and communication when dealing with students individually, and grew to be an effective and humble leader of a group.

Ebuka says that his first step towards a career in software engineering was the support he received from CodePath. His second step? A summer internship with Google. 

Ebuka describes Google as his “dream company” to work for. He explains that he appreciates the company “for the culture and the way they treat engineers. I want to be around that kind of energy.” 

“I definitely want to give a big shout out to CodePath’s technical interview prep course,” he adds. “It was a great course that got me prepared for my interview at Google, and those interviews are notoriously difficult.”

Beyond his Google internship, Ebuka has much to celebrate. He was recently guaranteed admission to University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, whose Computer Science program is ranked 5th, according to U.S. News and World Report.

“If you get straight A’s for two semesters, you have a guaranteed admission to Urbana-Champaign, which is a great school for computer science.” This is an especially impressive accomplishment given how much energy he committed outside the classroom as a CodePath leader. 

In addition to rigorous industry preparation, CodePath’s curriculum encourages students to engage with their entrepreneurial side as well. This resonated with Ebuka, and aside from working with CodePath, Ebuka and his roommates are working on a side project called Approachable, an app to help adults build new friendships.

“We’re trying to solve the problem of young adults being unable to make friends post-college,” he says. Aimed at 25-39 year olds, this would solve an issue that Ebuka and his roommates have observed – the difficulty to “expand your circle during that time, especially when you’re moving to new cities.”

Ebuka speaks passionately about utilizing his skills to help others achieve success. 

“I think the biggest motivator for me is seeing my friends and my family achieve less than they can, even when they put in more work,” he says. For Ebuka, this is specifically tied to developing countries where the achievement does not measure up to the amount of effort applied, “I don’t want to see that happen anymore.”

Ebuka highlights the importance of community support in his work, and hopes to help “bring people out of dark places,” he says. Driven by change, Ebuka says, “my focus is trying to switch from just making money to creating an impact, you have to share and give back to other people.”

Although not motivated by financial incentives for himself, Ebuka recognizes the influence that proper financing can have for a community. Ebuka is inspired to find financial freedom in order to help others achieve the same.

“My real focus is what I do with the resources,” explains Ebuka. Ebuka has seen bright, ambitious peers hindered by circumstance. Recalling a high school classmate, Ebuka emphasizes, “this is probably the smartest boy I’ve ever met.” Ebuka remarks about the disparate opportunities presented to students like his classmate, “the opportunities available to him are not at the level that he would have in a country like America. It’s one of my goals to make that happen for him. I want people to be able to achieve what they are working for.” 

“I think startup lifestyle is less about how much you make, or the company, and more about how you’re connected to the work, and that it’s impactful work,” he says. 

Ebuka is an inspiration. He is not only committed to his personal learning journey inside and outside the classroom, he is passionate about creating impact in his community, and well on his way to doing great things as a leader of the tech community!